Christmas Light Switch-On Events

Where: Countrywide throughout the UK
When: Late November and early December
Time: Late afternoons & evenings


Camels, South Shields 2015

A relatively modern but very widespread custom is the ceremonial switch-on of Christmas lights in towns and cities and even small villages throughout the land. While the honour of being the one to perform the act varies from one place to another, from celebrities to local worthies to characters from seasonal plays and films and even in one or two cases to raffle winners, the act of turning on the carefully prepared outdoor lights in a big reveal to the expectant crowd is the same everywhere. For obvious reasons it will always take place after dark but some places choose to stage it relatively early to allow youngsters to participate – and it gets dark by 4pm at this time of year. The most common times for the events to take place are the last 2 weekends in November and the first in December, often but not always on Fridays or Saturdays.Expect a countdown before the blaze of lights! At South Shields near Newcastle upon Tyne they have a parade with real camels carrying the Three Magi, followed by fireworks; at Hexham in Northumberland, Santa usually has the honour of turning the lights on , helped by the singing of the choristers from the Abbey. In addition to communal events, some householders decorate their home exteriors to create a Christmas House, usually as a charity fundraiser – the house photo features an example from Prudhoe in Northumberland which is a town local to us.

Helpful Hints

As there are countless events all over the country, I can’t list them all on this site. Check out your local press for places and times – they’re usually well advertised at least a week or two in advance and local council websites often list them. There will be more than one near you!

Finding Christmas Houses can be more of a challenge – some are featured on this link: